Here we are, a little more than a month we live in France, and now for since a day we finally have our own connection to the outside world via the internet. This was it? It's that simple? No, far from it ...
Where shall I start. I think just at the beginning, now 1 month ago.
December the 9th 2019, it all starts!
The moving van arrives exactly on time: at eight o'clock in the morning. Three men strong. Piece of cake. However? We are on our way in the morning, it stays dry outside and the loading seems to be going well. Until the driver (and yet the important man of the team) slips and falls ugly. The result appears later: a heavily bruised or broken tailbone and his knee completely broken inside. He can't go on like that but still tries. In the meantime auxiliary troops have been added from the removal company and loading is going faster. However, the driver went back home directly to the doctor. His son, a not so experienced long-distance driver, will take over his duties and will drive the truck to France for us together with 1 extra person for unloading.
After the men ate a late-night meal with us (don't ask: the snackbar in our village was of course closed on that day due to circumstances ...) they started driving towards France. We went to bed pretty tired, to get up early at 4 in the morning.
December 10th 2019, on our way.
A little later than we had planned, we had our last breakfast in the Netherlands. Everyone in the village was still asleep. We had to bring our last things in the car and on the trailer. We thought that it should succeed. But no. With a lot of stuffing and pushing and putting in the last corners, (almost) everything went along. We left a few things in the garage. It really couldn't go in the car anymore. Three cats were uncomfortable in the bench at the back of the car. The dog lay in the back seat in a small place. And somewhere in a hump with clothing in the back seat, there was also a container with the goldfish. Even before it became light, we last left the street where we had lived for 12 years. Bye Bye! Almost 800 kilometers to go, and as we could estimate, also eight hours' drive.
The journey went quite well, although the first 100 kilometers and the first hour of driving seemed to take forever. Slowly it became lighter in the Netherlands. The dog kept himself very well in its place, but the cats themselves were giving the best concert that you can only have of three cats. We heard two continuously, and the third occasionally came with a meow.
I suddenly realized that I had bought special wipes with herbs in them, which should ensure that cats became calm during a long journey. I put a damp wipe in a slot in the heater so that the scent could spread. And, whether it was imagination, coincidence, or it really worked: the cats became calm! I wondered if it would also have an effect on us and if we would not be half stunned in the car for the rest of the trip.
We approached the well-known crossing point at the Hazeldonk border. Here we took a short break before we crossed the border to Belgium. We knew this piece best through our exhibition trips to Ghent. But after Ghent, it soon became unknown territory. This was quite nice, because before we were really aware of it, we were across the border to France. YES! We were in France. But on the route planner we also saw that it would take a while before we arrived at the destination. We had hoped to arrive around 3 pm, but it was earlier 5 pm. It was also exciting whether our bipper would work for the toll roads. At the first gate it took some getting used to how to drive, but the next one we knew. A beep and we could just drive on. Learned something again.
Around 3 pm we were called by the movers: they had arrived at Notre Dame de Courson and were standing at the Salle de Fete. We were not there yet. In the meantime, they would see if they could come to our house by truck. A while later another phone: it didn't work: a small truck had to be arranged to transfer the stuff from the big truck and then drive it to the house with the smaller truck and unload it again. The road was too narrow, too slippery and muddy for the large truck with trailer behind it.
But we had already counted on this and via English neighbors we had hired a small truck AND auxiliary troops.
In the meantime it had become dark and we still had a small distance to go to our house. We drove into the well-known small roads, and there, around the bend, would be our driveway, with the gate .... closed? It was clearly agreed that the gate would be open for us. Dark, cold, tired. Calling the Netherlands: the gate is locked. What to do? Where's a key? We don't have that. And contact with the English neighbor did not work, no telephone range. The neighbor was called fromout the Netherlands, he arrived. (He appeared to have locked the gate) A gritty neighbor arrived with the key. And he immediately indicated that he would certainly not do anything until February. Well, a nice welcome too. Anyway: our gate was open and we slipped over the driveway to the first house (That will be the gite later on) It was very dark outside ....
With weary legs, cold limbs, and a flashlight, we walked into the valley to our own final home. We really couldn't get there by car, because of the rain, the grassland had become very muddy. Touch the key in the lock: open! Finally in our French house. And it was cold! No heater on. But according to our contact in the Netherlands, the English neighbor had ensured that it would be warm comfortly. Well, it wasn't. Anyway, with a lot of lashing we have brought the bench with the cats to our house, the dog on it's place and we even found the goldfish alive upside down in its container in the back seat.
Erik drove to the square in the village afterwards to pick up the men from the removal company. They too were cold and had not eaten anything. A hot shower would be nice. But: no water? The main tap was off. This was not agreed. Yes, the neighbor .... We soon started to think: that neighbor says he does, but he doesn't. So: on the knees outside in the dark with a flashlight to open the main tap. Water! Boiler on. Heat pumps on. Heating on. But also the wood stove lit.
The power went out twice. And then it is very dark in the house. Just keep a flashlight with you. Turned out to be an outdoor lamp that caused the problem. Then off again. In consultation with the men from the removal company, we also decided that it would even be a problem with a smaller truck. Due to the heavy rain, the access road to the first house was really impossible. The car would get stuck and could not go anywhere. A different solution had to be devised for the next day when the truck with trailer had to be unloaded. Because that same evening the truck had to move to another relocation to pick up things ...
December 11th, search for solutions.
Erik slept restlessly at night. How can we arrange things, solve them, what have we started. He did come up with the idea that it would be better to look for a temporary storage where the truck could go and where everything could be unloaded. Then we'll see later how we get the stuff to our address. In the morning we called our Dutch contact and they eventually found one available close to us in an old French house, which we could use as storage. Moreover, the truck could get there. The French neighbor (owner of that old house) came with the key and after a brief inspection by us, we decided to go for it and store our stuff temporarily. Really temporary, because the house is old, dirty, wet, full of mice and holes, but with some covers, it should work.
However, the truck could not get there including the trailer. It remained on the square near the hall in the village. With the two movers, Erik, myself (with two new hips and knee, really running on titanium) and the French neighbor, we emptied the truck until the wee hours. There was something put everywhere in the old French house. In the garage, full of old hay, were our kitchen appliances, couch, cupboards, you name it. And upstairs in the house on shaky floors full of holes and musty odor, all boxes.
Now we had to unload the trailer somewhere.. We found out that this was not possible, not even a possible solution at the French neighbor. A drastic decision was made: the trailer (still full of boxes and furniture) would be unloaded on the square in the middle of the village. The truck had to go to the next job in the evening. We would transport things on our own car with trailer that evening to our house.
Because I have been on an internet list of Dutch people living in France for a while, I made an emergency call: who could help us that evening to bring our things from the square to our house. And after a short while, 1 Dutch couple responded: Celma and Robert. Who live about 35 minutes away from us. They understood our situation and came with their car and trailer to help. Never been so happy to see someone else arrive with a car and trailer! We spent that evening with the four of us taking away all the important things and furniture from the square. Cold, dark and muddy. But we kept up our courage and, despite everything, had a lot of fun. The head bumps, thresholds and pits in the ground in particular gave rise to laughter. Perhaps due to the adrenaline. "HEAD! HOLE! THRESHOLD!' The temporary dump on the square was reduced to just the plants and other garden items. Finally we could go home. And after a hot shower and some food, in bed. Ready for the next day ..
December 12th, starting to collect and make our final move...
To our surprise, we found all the things we had left on the square the next day, in exactly the same place. This would have long been robbed in the Netherlands. Or that police would have been there to remove it and have given you a hefty ticket. Through the helpful French neighbor, we had managed to rent a van at the Carrefour. A very friendly employee there helped us, and when we received the key to the van and drove away, we received two thumbs and 'bon courage'. With the van we picked up the last things from the square.
We only hoped that we could take the passage on the road to our house with the delivery van. When we were here a few months ago and we had measured everything, we got no further than 160 centimeters wide. A van is anyway wider. But when we stood at the square in the village and I looked at it that way, I thought, "Did we really measure it then?" because that size suddenly seemed to me very narrow compared to reality. We would experience it. At the narrowest part of the road, I drove with our own car behind Erik in the van, to check the passage in this way before he got stuck. We stopped in front of it: it really seemed to be going well. There was even room left! Great relief. We could get through it.
December 13th, till we get everything
From this day on, our journey began each time to the old French house, to take away our things with the two of us, our car and trailer. An exhausting time comes from almost every day, lifting, everything twice in your hands, the car full, trailer full, and the steep roads up and down to the first house. (Soleil, the holiday home) Here we place everything back in a temporary place: a roofed-in part and an old shed. (These will in the future be converted into a toilet and washing facilities for a mini-camp) The holiday home is also pretty full, and what we can bring down to our own house, we do that as much as possible immediately. Our own house is already going to be a home. The box that I found with Christmas stuff brings relief for temporary lighting. It is getting cozy too.
It also becomes clear to us that a truck really could not have driven on our own driveway. Due to the rain and the mud, the ground has even been driven away by our own car. We have to tackle this considerably in the future, because we did discover that some solid ground was once laid under it, but over time it has been overgrown with grass and mud.
Finally everything seems to become something now. Even the weather is really nice on some days and then it is very comfortable in the sun with at least 20 degrees out of the wind on Christmas Day! On the other hand there are many days with rain. We plow through the wet grass with mud, the car has a hard time with the full cart behind it, but in the end we rent a small truck for the last big things like a 250 cm long sofa. Our powers are also running out and we are ready for a day without lugging around. And then, yes, everything is gone from the old French house and all our things are on our own property! Not yet in their final place, but oh well, that will come. Now we are going to look ahead. Arranging the most important things such as the electricity in our name and address. Because in France, that is proof that you exist and live at the address you have.
And, not unimportantly: our connection to the outside world. Internet. We are going to do this via satellite, because, even though they are currently also building Orange (telecom) in the area where we live, we still want a satellite dish for the internet. However, it took quite a few feet to finally get our order delivered to our address. Proof that it finally worked out, this huge update blog of how we ended up in France with the move. From now on a blog will be posted regularly. Every day is a new experience. We can write a book about it ...